Long time lurcher first time poster, maybe you can help!
I received an older mid '70's turntable for my birthday, a Pioneer PL-15 II. It's beautiful and I can't wait to play some rich LP's out of it. As a first time turntable owner, I figured I could just hook it up to my newer (are the 90's newer? Or just less old?) Marantz SR-7000 receiver which doesn't have a phono jack.
A quick test and five seconds of google has alerted me to my next component hunt, a Phono Preamp, or a receiver with a phono jack. In a perfect world, I'll eventually step up to a vintage receiver, but I don't have the room for one at this time. So, I have been looking at phono preamps, but also stumbled across some Adcom pre-amps (like the GTP 400 and 500), both of which have a phono input. My question is, will these multi-purpose preamps do the trick and be of similar quality to a single purpose Phono Preamp?
Some units have an input labelled Phono which is only meant to take the output of an external phono stage--there's no actual phono preamp behind the input jack. However the GTP-400 is NOT like that. It has a built-in hi-level (MM) phono preamp.
But beware of inexpensive preamps, especially ones with integrated phono, an extra-cost feature. They may offer the phono feature you don't have, and with integrated phono the GTP-400 would save you a set of cables, but cheaper preamps may not give better overall sound than you're getting from your receiver.
With your existing equipment, a preamp isn't going to work. What you want is a phono preamp to hook up through one of the line inputs in your receiver (like the AUX input, if you have one).. There are several good inexpensive phono preamps out there that would be a good match for your other equipment. The Parasound zphono comes immediately to mind. It retails for $199, can handle both moving magnet and moving coil cartridges, and is often available used here on Audiogon for under $140. If you know you are using a moving magnet cartridge, an even less expensive, respectable alternative is the Cambridge Audio 540p, which is often sold for $99. I'm sure others will suggest equally attractive alternatives.
You CAN use any preamp with a built-in phono stage with your current setup. The turntable hooks to the "phono in" on the preamp and you can use either the "preamp out" or the "tape out" to any high level input your receiver.
The "preamp out" will let you use the volume control on the preamp to match levels, but also runs through most of the preamp circuitry. The "tape out" bypasses all of the preamp controls and allows a cleaner signal.
I have done this MANY times and have always had great success. I know others on here have done the same.
What Mofimadness said, yeah. If you can find an old Superphon or better yet a Nakamichi CA5 you will have a better phono pre amp than the current offerings of Cambridge, NAD, etc. These go for $100 to $150. then run it through your receiver as Mofimadness suggests.
Just remember that the phono stage is the most important part of the amplification process as it provides the most gain. This is especially true if you use a low output moving coil cartridge.
My advise would be to buy the best used stand alone phono preamp you can afford and run that into your current preamp aux input. If you feel the need later you can upgrade that part without changing the whole preamp.
Seems to me that the most cost-effective approach is to stick with the Marantz receiver and purchase a stand-alone phono stage to go with it. There are many excellent choices at prices well below $500, probably as low as $200 or less, if you admit the possibility of a used component. To the OP: your receiver many not have an input labeled "phono", but it probably does have inputs labeled "AUX". These are so-called high level inputs which can accept the output of an inexpensive phono stage. You do not need to buy a full-function preamp or a new receiver in order to enjoy vinyl.
Thanks again to all. I went with a Parasound on the Audiogon classified sections (so far so good, I think he'll ship it this week), and dropped the player off at a Audio Lab in Cambridge for a once over.
My brother, the reason I got into music in the first place bought me a 180 gram Coltrane LP as a test, can't wait. Your advice is a truly appreciated, I'm sure I'll be back for more at some point.
Are you really going to plug the Parasound into the AUX input of your Marantz receiver? That's a bit like using a thoroughbred racehorse to give rides at a children's birthday party. If you have near-future intentions to upgrade everything else, it's fine to do that for the time being.
You got it! Just out of curiosity, should I decide to replace the children's birthday party, and look for something closer to a high school graduation party, or if I can afford it, college graduation, what do you suggest? Just a few makes and models that I can peruse the classifieds for would be great.
Also, so I can sleep at night, I actually have a Marantz SR-8000, not a 7000 like I originally posted. I know, I know, it's still tiddly winks, but at least I got it off my chest.